Doing what is most important vs. doing everything I want to do

“When you cannot do what you have always done, then you only do what matters most.”

Robert D. Hales


This weekend my second oldest daughter was baptized.  We had lots of family travel in from Virginia, Arizona, and Southern Utah to join with us and other family and friends here in the Salt Lake area.  It was a fantastic weekend.

It was also a really hard weekend.

My favorite weekends are ones filled with family, food, board games, and catching up on everyone’s lives that we don’t get to see very often.  Hours on end of visiting and laughing and hanging out.  That is my jam.

But, this weekend was a reminder that while I’m making progress, I still have a lot of recovery to go until I can be back to myself in settings like that.  The hardest thing right now is still the thick, ever-present mucus in my throat and mouth.  I constantly feel like I’m gagging and it is really tough to talk for any extended period of time.  My throat fills up with mucus and I need a spittoon to hawk a loogie or my mouth suction machine — neither of those options really make for good party tricks.  The mucus, plus some extra fatigue I felt this weekend, kept me out of many of the festivities….but not the most important ones.

I had three goals this weekend:

  1. Baptize Lucy (required being in the font with water up to our waist and saying a 20 second prayer)
  2. Give Lucy the Gift of the Holy Ghost (2nd part of baptism, required giving a prayer that is usually a couple minutes long)
  3. Share my testimony about God in our church service (once a month in my church they have “open mic night” where anyone from the congregation can share their personal convictions from the pulpit)

Those three things were what was most important to me this weekend and gratefully I was able to do all three.  When I was feeling kind of sorry for myself Saturday night after missing out on a lot of the fun with the family throughout the day, I remembered the quote at the top of this blog post.

“When you cannot do what you have always done, then you only do what matters most.”


If you remember the burrito analogy from last blog post, I have definitely felt things cooling down since taking it out of the microwave (radiation) three weeks ago.  Most of my mouth sores have healed and most of the skin on my face and neck has peeled off like a sunburn.  You’ll notice on the pictures from the baptism that there is a dark hue to the skin on my face and neck.  I’m told that fades with time.

I am drinking water now, although it is still pretty painful to swallow.  I’ve tried different juices, gatorade, and a few types of food but all have burned the throat pretty badly and seem to agitate it enough that the mucus and coughing gets worse for an hour or so afterward.  I’m just sticking with water for now and hoping toward the end of this week to try again with food and smoothies.  I’ve got an appointment next week with a swallowing therapist to help me get back on the right track.

Importantly for me, I have been able to reduce the intake of pain medication without things getting unmanageable.  I used to wear a fetanyl patch on my arm which gave me a steady flow of narcotics and I’d take oxycodone on top of that at night and sometimes during the day (it was pretty heavy stuff!).  I’ve moved to ibuprofen during the day and oxycodone at night, and as of Friday morning I’m no longer wearing the fetanyl patch.

So the burrito is cooling down but now it is time for another big chemo dose on Wednesday.  I guess that is analogous to taking a big syringe of Chulula and injecting the burrito.  Whoever ends up eating this thing is in for a big surprise!

This Wednesday might be my last dose of chemo for a while.  I will get a PET / CT scan about three weeks from now to see how things look.  That’s a momentous scan for us.

Now excuse me while I watch my Cubbies raise their 2016 World Championship Banner on ESPN right now!



5 thoughts on “Doing what is most important vs. doing everything I want to do”

  1. It gets better and things get back to normal as times goes on. So glad you were able go do the thing you just competed. Every little step is a giant step for you all. I have to go on an have my throat dilated again ,scar tissue gets tough an swallowing food gets hard to do. 17 years out of that nasty cancer. Your doing great. We will say lots of prayers for you my friend! This the worst club to belong to. Vince masse. 😁


  2. Jarom… we lost touch! I just read in the Carmen Herbert’s column about you and found your blog. My dear friend I am so sorry for your cancer battle. I don’t know if you have my contact info or can reach me from this comment… You will now be added to my prayer list. Your beautiful family. I can’t get over it. what a special weekend you had. The precious things are your sweet family. I want you to know that I have spent the past year battling diabetes and double breast cancer… two different types. One in each side. (I had a double mastectomy on May 25, 2016) I don’t understand the depth of your treatment. I do understand some of the feelings I have read here. Life is so hard. I have an interesting story of refinement and trials physical and spiritual from the last few years. I am now in reconstruction process (surgery on Friday) and am a Survivor. I guess I can wear the livestrong band now too. You have always been special. Love, Julie Chambers


    1. Jarom… I have been following your story! First I command you for going public with this. It’s such an inspiration to me! I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer almost a year ago! I’ve had 2 major surgeries and with possibly one more in the next couple of months! Your spiritual approach to this heart-wrenching issue of cancer fight is precisely what the doctors order in my opinion!
      One suggestion, ( to Julie Chambers as well), how about a blog or website for LDS battling cancer? You may be able to inspire a lot of people facing similar trials and their care givers. This is because that there are things that as LDS we know that the rest of the word regrettably doesn’t. I’m referring for examples to conference talks by leaders of the church on dealing with adversity, regular temple attendance when possible. Listening to such inspired and inspiring talks brings me so much peace that surpasses human understanding and courage. The way you see the problem is sometimes the problem. If you know first of all that “Life was never meant to be consistently pleasant (Dallin H Oaks)”, that our trials have an eternal purpose, and that disappointments, setbacks, “unanswered” prayers are an avoidable part of mortality, that we must look to Christ on every thought and tap in the power of the atonement for sources of strength, it makes us stronger to deal with such formidable challenges.
      One of my first impulses upon being diagnosed was to move to Utah simply because I know the LDS faith there is so strong that it would give me strength to endure. But because I do not live in Utah and you appear to be such a born leader, the caliber of Neal A Maxwell in my opinion, if I may, I’d like to encourage you or Julie Chambers to consider such a role if circumstances permit. You guys have the power to impact so many cancer patients like myself, in and out of the church. Will you think about it?


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